Chocolate Chia Pudding (For Pop-Pop)

70 years is a very long time to be alive.

Just ask my dad, Pop-Pop.

Somewhere in Israel, Pop-Pop is celebrating his 70th birthday by digging up and cataloging ancient artifacts.  Basically, this is his version of Zen.  Heaven on earth.  It ranks somewhere above the (poorly executed) Green Eggs and Ham 50th birthday breakfast I made him, and just slightly below marrying my mom 48+ years ago.  I have been assured the little kibbutz store near his hotel will provide a fitting meal and dessert, and his fellow diggers and scholars will sing Happy Birthday to him, quite possibly in Hebrew…which Pop-Pop knows.  Because he’s a super smart, dedicated, life-long student and he’s awesome like that. He also loves his wife, his kids, his grandkids, and treats his in-law kids like his own.  (Just as an aside, my parents are really great parents and excellent in-laws.  It’s unanimous.)  He is the hardest working person I’ve ever met and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.  He also isn’t afraid to make a terrible pun or be ridiculously silly with his grandkids.

I’ve always believed three definitive truths about Pop-Pop:

1.  He is crazy about my mom, and always has been.  They still make out like teenagers.  (Get a room!)
2.  He loves his kids almost as much as he loves our mom.  He’s always been generous with hugs and “I love you”s with all three of us.  (“Bear hug” is an understatement.)
3.  He has a massive sweet tooth.  It’s epic.  (It’s also genetic.)

One of Pop-Pop’s favorite desserts is pie.  But I haven’t figured out how to make a decent pie that would make my Nana (Pop-Pop’s mom) proud.  Nana was a Kansas farm girl and made amazing pie.  I can’t compete with my dad’s childhood there.  But I CAN make pudding.  Amazing, delicious tapioca pudding which is one of Pop-Pop’s other favorites.  I’m willing to bet at least two widow’s mites he won’t even notice I made it without sugar, dairy or tapioca pearls.  I DID make it with chocolate, but you can easily do without it.  I’ve eaten this every day for two weeks, and I really can’t get enough.  It’s refreshing, chocolate-y and delicious.  It’s also very easy to make and you don’t have to heat up your kitchen to make it!  I think Pop-Pop will be pleased and my Nana would approve.
Ingredients:
1 can full-fat coconut milk
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup high quality unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup erythritol
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 Tbsp raw honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
10-15 drops NuNaturals vanilla stevia

Directions:
1) Mix everything together until well-combined.  Chill for 2-3 hours, or up to 4 days.

Alternate Preparations:
You can omit the chia seeds.  If you do, also omit the almond milk.  Chia absorbs moisture and thickens things up.  You can also put the pudding in popsicle molds for a Pudding Pop-Pop.  Add lemon extract and a bit of zest instead of the cocoa powder, or add some fresh berries for a summery twist.  Shalom!

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